Summary: H.R.3615 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (04/13/2000)

Rural Local Broadcast Signal Act - States that the purpose of this Act is to facilitate access to local television signals for households in unserved and underserved areas by December 31, 2006.

(Sec. 3) Establishes the Rural Television Loan Guarantee Board which shall determine loan recipients under this Act.

(Sec. 4) Authorizes the Board, subject to prior funding, to approve loan guarantees to finance the acquisition, improvement, construction, launch, or rehabilitation of the means by which local television broadcast signals will be delivered principally to unserved areas. Directs the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service to prescribe implementing regulations.

Includes among loan requirements stipulations that such loan must: (1) not be used for operating, advertising, or promotional expenses; (2) be determined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to be commercially viable and not likely to have an adverse competitive effect; (3) be provided by a qualifying lender; and (4) be repaid within 25 years or the primary asset's useful life.

Grants loan priority to projects serving the greatest number of households in unserved areas. Prohibits loans that will serve certain populated market areas.

Establishes an: (1) aggregate $1.25 billion loan cap; and (2) 80 percent loan guarantee for the portion of the loan used to provide local television signals.

Authorizes the Board to establish and approve credit risk premiums.

States that the Board's approval or disapproval of a loan guarantee shall not be subject to judicial review.

(Sec. 5) Directs the Administrator to issue and administer approved loan guarantees.

Sets forth provisions respecting: (1) security for protection of U.S. financial interests; (2) loan guarantee assignment; (3) loan guarantee modification; (4) performance schedules; (5) compliance; (6) commercial validity; (7) defaults; (8) payment recovery; (9) action against an obligor; (10) breach of conditions; (11) attachment; (12) fees; (13) affiliates; and (14) bankruptcy.

(Sec. 6) Prohibits fund use: (1) for spectrum auctions; and (2) by incumbent cable operators.

(Sec. 8) Directs the Comptroller General to perform annual audits of: (1) the loan guarantee program; and (2) loan guarantee recipients.

(Sec. 9) States that a facility of a satellite carrier, cable system, or other multichannel video programming distributor financed with a loan guarantee under this Act that delivers local broadcasting signals in a specified television market shall not be required to carry a greater number of signals than such market's largest cable subscriber system.

(Sec. 10) Directs the Federal Communications Commission to open an application filing period window for television translator stations and low-power television stations in rural areas.

(Sec. 11) Directs the FCC to reinstate as tentative rural service selectees, and permit application amendments for: (1) Great Western Cellular Partners; (2) Monroe Telephone Services L.P.;and (3) FutureWave General Partners L.P.

(Sec. 12) Amends the Communications Act of 1934 with respect to the definition of "satellite carrier." (Includes distributors under specified circumstances.)

(Sec. 13) Defined specified terms.

(Sec. 14) Authorizes FY 2001 through 2006 appropriations.

(Sec. 15) Prohibits loan guarantee approval after December 31, 2006.